On Saturday, October 26, GT members gathered in PG County to build a play space for the kids of John H. Bayne Elementary School. We were joined by the families of Bayne students as well as people from the surrounding Capitol Heights community -- nearly 150 volunteers in all. Everyone was there to help build, paint and assemble. What a day!!!!
After nearly a year of planning and weeks of Monday morning conference calls among GT leaders, Bayne staff, the Bayne PTO and our KaBOOM! managers, it was hard to believe that we had finally reached Build Day. At 8 A.M. we started with breakfast -- arranged for and served by the Bayne PTO. Then came the kickoff: PG County elected officials made brief remarks, along with Bayne Principal Erica Bennett and School Board member Belinda Queen. GT President Karen Gilgoff spoke as well, representing GT as the funding organization. Master of Ceremonies was Sherri Howard, Bayne's powerhouse PTO president.
Then, all the volunteers broke up into groups with their team leaders and headed out to the empty asphalt surface behind the school. Within a few hours, it was transformed into a Multi-Sport Court made of colorful resin tiles, state-of-the-art adjustable basketball hoops (four to allow more kids to practice at once), nets for volleyball and tennis, and goals for futsal -- a form of soccer. In addition, volunteers painted four-square and hopscotch games and huge maps of the USA and the world.
Volunteers also built an outdoor musical-instrument center -- a generous gift (along with a set of basketball hoops) from a GT member who wishes to remain anonymous. The instruments include colorful drums, xylophones, marimba and more, providing a beautiful, creative element to the play space.
When the volunteers got hungry, the school started grilling burgers and hotdogs for everybody. To show its appreciation to GT for making the Sport Court possible, the school provided a special lunch for our group in the teachers' lounge. It was a very touching gesture. After the build was completed, the ribbon cutting ceremony began. The volunteers were treated to a music and dance concert by the Bayne kids and everyone ate cake decorated with a sports theme. Giving Together was celebrated by the crowd with a big THANKS and a deafening cheer. That night, the event was highlighted on NBC-TV 4's 11:00 news.
Build Day was a truly amazing experience. Since then, Bayne has reported that the kids are on the court every day, enjoying their safe and colorful play space.
None of this could have happened without the generous annual contributions of GT members. The Sport Court was our big 10th Anniversary project and took the better part of a year to accomplish. No easy task. Special thanks to the co-chairs of GT's Grants Committee (Renee Licht, Christine Kessides and Susan Alberts), who helped manage the project from our side, as well as the committee members who helped do volunteer outreach and public relations. Also thanks to Ellen Krouss, Jenny DeMarco and Derrick Dixon - our management team at KaBOOM! And of course, many thanks to our great community partner: the administration, faculty, families and kids of Bayne Elementary. They made it all worthwhile.